The organization formerly known as “RATPAC” is now the STONEWALL MILITANT FRONT.
We have consolidated our basic understanding of patriarchy under capitalism and its relationship to women and LGBT people. This task was taken up to rid our politics of liberalism and postmodernism, and to uphold proletarian feminism over identity politics. Because of this, we will no longer be organizing exclusively along trans identity lines but rather based on our political understanding of the secondary aspect of patriarchy under capitalism (defined below). This is not merely a broadening of our membership, but the sharpening of our politics to be more capable of fighting our oppression and waging revolution. It is the product of years of studying, working, and fighting.
This theoretical understanding is roughly summarized below. A more thorough and precise theoretical document on this will come in time. The name of our page will change in the near future.
RATPAC MAKES WAY FOR THE STONEWALL MILITANT FRONT
RATPAC started in March of 2015 with little more than a handful of members and a desire to see the end to the oppression of trans people. We lacked any kind of consolidated views as to how accomplish this or what this even really meant, but we did agree on one thing: capitalism is the enemy of the broad exploited majority of trans people and it has to be destroyed. We have faced many defeats as well as successes over the course of these last few years, we have struggled hard, at times just to stay afloat, and we have grown in numbers and political precision. We have broken with many incorrect ideas and taken many steps forward as an organization; we have rejected and drawn hard lines against the liberalism of nonprofits, NGOs, and the like – and we have accepted the necessity for militancy and discipline in our fight. The next important step forward for us is to make a clear demarcation between ourselves as a true revolutionary organization and those whose politics would offer everyday trans people anything but power.
Postmodernism lacks the ability to understand that there is a contradiction fundamental to the function of our society between the working class and the ruling class, that everything we do as people living in this society will be in favor of one class or the other, and that this conflict is the main driving force of capitalism. All iterations of oppression, such as white supremacy and patriarchy, are meant to serve the ruling class and uphold the current distribution of power. Instead postmodernism seeks to endlessly divide people and “realities” based on their identities. It rejects the idea of objective truths that can and must be deeply investigated and understood independently from our individual fancies, and it leaves people only to see their own “lived experiences” as the truth. Identity politics (or what can be called identity opportunism or identity-reductionism) is a direct product of this political postmodernism, and must be done away with. These politics seek to center “voices” on the basis of identity rather than centering a political line capable of taking on the objective conditions we are facing, substituting individual identities and experiences for politics.
With this has arisen the lingo of “unraveling” or “deconstructing” what is falsely portrayed as separate-but-intersecting systems of oppression through various individual changes we can make to our behaviors and language based on identity. The highest organizational forms of these politics is represented in capitalist-friendly NGOs and non-profits who now freely assume this language of so-called social justice. It has created little else beyond supposedly progressive careers and “hot take” writing gigs, and an ego-drive subculture that finds its home on the internet and on university campuses. The people who fervently uphold these politics are often recognizable by their ability to call damn near anything revolutionary. This comes easy to them since their politics actually represent the liquidation of revolution.
We stand prepared to draw a line in the sand and arm ourselves against the right and the idealist liberals alike. Without a truly materialist viewpoint, we will absolutely fail. Political postmodernism is the ideological output of the petit-bourgeoisie who have no concrete relationship to the production of the world around them, and so their politics follow suit. We do not have such a luxury. We must recognize our place in this bigger picture if we really want to see a change and that requires a thorough analysis of what LGBT oppression is, how it manifests, and who is affected by it. We see this as distinct from the way that any postmodern, liberal organization orients itself in two ways: first, we reject the idea that bad individuals and microaggressions are the source of oppression, we understand the relationship of LGBT oppression to capitalism, and second we wholy reject identity politics and see this as a hopeless way to organize. We understand that while our identities can inform our worldview, our “lived experiences” are subordinate to class oppression and this must be taken into account in our organizing. The only way we can effectively destroy the oppression that is facing LGBT people is by truly understanding it as it actually exists as part of the machinery of the whole of capitalist society. Anything else is political betrayal of trans people.
With these truths in mind, we have approached the task of consolidating our general political understanding of patriarchy under capitalism, how it relates to women and LGBT people, and how its conclusions must inform our new organizational form and direction.
THE PURPOSE OF PATRIARCHY
The purpose of patriarchy under capitalism is to uphold a particular set of labor relations that serve the capitalist class, maintaining and reproducing the capitalist system as a whole.
The cornerstone of patriarchal relations under any class system has been the division of productive and reproductive labor. In modes of production before capitalism, this was strictly for the accomplishment of reproductive tasks: ensuring each new generation is born and successfully raised to replace the previous generation, and maintaining the health and “general upkeep” of all economic participants.
In the era of capitalism, and especially imperialism, the demands of capital have brought women into the workforce and there now exists waged reproductive labor and women engaging in productive labor as well. In this context, patriarchy has arisen for a second task: to create a special, extra-oppressed section of the workforce that can be more deeply exploited, often only being seen as suitable for some of the most disrespected and poorly paid tasks, while ensuring that the original reproductive tasks are still being broadly accomplished.
The assignment of gender (male/female) at birth in its most modern form arose from the division of productive/reproductive labor and the subjugation of reproductive labor. It is the means by which humans are set up in preparation for them to assume fundamental economic and social positions to serve capitalism, both in outside-of-the-home life, as well as in life within the economic unit of the nuclear family.
THE PRINCIPAL ASPECT OF PATRIARCHY UNDER CAPITALISM
The principal aspect of patriarchal oppression is of women as a social role. This is not based on an individual’s genitals nor their personally held identity, but is being constantly determined and acted upon by their existence under capitalism. Given that we understand what the purpose of male/female gender assignment is in capitalist society, we can know that this oppression faces anyone who is socially perceived to have been assigned female at birth (AFAB).
The ongoing social scrutiny of and action upon those perceived to be AFAB is the way by which society continues, even after birth, to assign gender. Perception of being AFAB and thus being continually assigned “female” becomes the basis by which capitalist society sees one as capable of, and thus required to, uphold its “female-assigned” aspect of the division of labor, and all of this division’s generated ideas and expectations about women that come with it: to carry forward reproductive tasks and certain “acceptable” labor positions generally, to hold a particular position within a nuclear family, and to assume certain social (and sexual) roles.
Concisely, we know that male/female gender assignment came from the division of productive and reproductive labor, and that with these came a whole host of particular roles and ways of being treated that accompany each of these assignments. We know that this is to fulfill certain economic tasks and a particular labor relationship, and to reproduce these in capitalist society again and again. It is people who are socially perceived as AFAB (and thus are again and again being primarily “assigned female”) that are the primary subjects to the principal aspect of patriarchal oppression under capitalism.
In this understanding, this means that not all AFAB people spend their lives as the primary subject of the principal aspect of patriarchy. It also means that not all people who are the primary subject of the principal aspect of patriarchy are AFAB. Not all women face this principal aspect of patriarchy, and not all who face this aspect are women. It is neither genitals nor identity that determines one living as the primary subject to the principal aspect of patriarchy, but social existence under capitalism.
THE SECONDARY ASPECT OF PATRIARCHY
The secondary aspect of patriarchal oppression is what we might call the oppression of deviation from the codified assigned roles corresponding to perceived gender assignment. This, too, is meant to uphold a very particular set of social relations that correspond to the relations of production (the male/female divide and the division of productive and reproductive labor).
We can picture this deviation in a social context occuring when someone is perceived to have been assigned one gender at birth, but to have in varying degrees and amounts conformed to the social relations and attributes of the gender assignment other to their own. This can be in presentation and mannerism (that acts against the coding of their perceived assigned gender) and in the way that they have sex (if it is perceived to not promote reproduction and the economic unit of the nuclear family).
Every person typically gets elements of this aspect of patriarchy as a part of gender assignment and socialization/discipline as they are prepared to assume corresponding social and economic roles. However, when we look broadly, we see a landscape in which the primary subject to this secondary aspect of patriarchal oppression is LGBT people. In fact, it is this secondary aspect of patriarchal oppression that makes it possible for us to speak of LGBT with any specificity. However, being neatly identifying or being defined as LGBT is not determinant of who faces this aspect of patriarchy. Again, this is a structure existing independently of identity, and we can only destroy it by understanding it as it exists independently of identity.
This is the aspect of patriarchy that most oversees the social boundaries between the corresponding roles of the division of labor, and sees such “deviance” as undermining the ideas, assumptions, inherencies, and “common sense” that must continually be reproduced for patriarchy to exist.
For trans women who are generally read to be assigned male at birth, they may be seen as men who are betraying the collective task of sexually dominating women, shirking their designated roles both socially and economically, or threatening the most vital underpinnings of “inherent aspects of assigned gender” that make heterosexual men feel that their way of being and seeing the world (including both themselves and women) is “natural”.
Lesbians may be faced with disdain for being perceived as “overstepping their boundaries” as women, and limiting the scope of the competitive marketplace of sexual domination by men. Similarly, butch lesbians can be seen with contempt for how their expression and manner of dress shirks consideration or “availability” for sexual consumption by men.
There are innumerable instances to varying degrees of intensity where we can see LGBT people and even others facing the secondary aspect of patriarchal oppression. And in fact, we can see that within this aspect of patriarchy, what we understand to be the motive force of violence, exploitation, and subjugation of trans people is actually shared ACROSS identity lines. This is because the secondary aspect of patriarchal oppression, just like the principal aspect, is founded in upholding particular economic and corresponding social relations, not in identity or genitalia.
LONG LIVE THE STONEWALL MILITANT FRONT
In order to act on our newly adopted theoretical understanding of patriarchal oppression and the way it affects LGBT people, we must change the way we organize. The culmination of RATPAC’s work and study has made way for its new and more effective form, from here on out to be known as the Stonewall Militant Front. SMF is an organization based on a shared social consciousness due to a set of common social conditions; we reject organizing on the basis of identity and seek to shed the dead weight of liberalism in addressing our task. We instead will seek to unite all who can be united on the most scientific and revolutionary of political lines in addressing the secondary aspect of patriarchy under capitalism. It makes sense that such a project would have been forged by working class trans people, but it makes no sense for it to remain exclusive based on identity lines.
The name Stonewall Militant Front was very deliberately chosen by our members as one that draws on historical roots and common ties while committing to a militant, revolutionary future. The Stonewall Riots saw LGBT people fight back against the foot soldiers of the capitalist state and the patriarchal oppression they were enforcing. The violently rebellious spirit is emphasized in the word “militant”. The memory of Stonewall has been co-opted by liberals, just as liberals have attempted to co-opt the name of revolution. Finally, “front” signifies that we wish to go beyond Stonewall. Stonewall was a spontaneous example of the LGBT masses’ fighting spirit and capabilities. We need that spirit and the righteous violence to be organized, disciplined, and with a protracted goal of winning power and destroying capitalism.
The adoption of this theorization and founding of SMF represents a simultaneous continuity and rupture. We were founded in order to address the patriarchal oppression of trans people under capitalism, and we will continue to do that. We will do it better than ever moving forward. However, the founding of SMF is also a rupture. It is a change in direction, committed to a more correct and effective way of organizing based on concrete reality. It is a rejection of the do-nothing identity reductionism that has plagued the LGBT organizing “scene” for too long, a refusal to have our rage relegated to nonprofits, “woke” spaces, or academic discourse alien to the interests of our class. It’s a commitment to truly making revolution and forging a unified militancy that threatens the very foundations of what oppresses us. LONG LIVE THE STONEWALL MILITANT FRONT.